GH5050 summary findings on leadership and parity

Decision-making power remains in the hands of men.


Women constitute the vast majority of people working in global health, making up to 75% of the health workforce in many countries. In US and many UK universities, nearly 80% of health science master’s students are women. Yet women are strikingly underrepresented at the leadership level—in institutional decision-making positions, global policy and governance forums, and scientific proceedings.

Women’s under-representation in management and leadership positions often results from a lack of interventions to foster a supportive organisational culture for all staff and to support women’s career pathways, particularly at key transition points (e.g. at motherhood or times of other caring roles). This is often compounded by the lack of progressive social policies in society at large, such as paid parental leave, access to affordable child care and free education, and lack of male contribution to unpaid domestic and care work.

Inequity is particularly visible at the highest levels.

So what do we do about it?

GH5050 recommendations

Organisations should adopt specific affirmative measures to achieve gender equality among staff and governing bodies, which include those mentioned in recommendations regarding workplace gender equality policies, as well as:

  • Undertaking quantitative and qualitative analysis to identify gender-related barriers at each step in the professional pathway, including to recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement;
  • Setting time-bound targets for gender parity, particularly at senior levels;
  • Establishing regular and transparent monitoring and reporting of progress with clear lines of accountability.